The Lady in Ermine was based on the Rudolph Schanzer-Ernest Wellisch operetta of the same name. Corinne Griffith stars as Mariana, the wife of Italian aristocrat Adrian (Einar Hansen). When her husband marches off to war, Mariana is left in charge of the ancestral castle and is thus on hand when an invading Austrian regiment makes the castle its headquarters. Among the invaders is General Dostal (Francis X. Bushman) and Archduke Stephen (Ward Crane), both of whom set their caps for the beauteous Mariana. Central to the plotline is a portrait, hanging on the wall of the castle, of Mariana's great-grandmother, "The Lady in Ermine," who sacrificed her virtue to save her husband in a previous war. Fascinated by the family legend, Dostal informs Mariana that he will have her husband executed unless she comes to Dostal's boudoir, dressed in her great-grandma's ermine wrap. Fortunately, our heroine is saved from compromising himself when Dostal falls asleep and dreams that he's enjoyed the favors of the Lady in Ermine -- or was it merely a dream? The film was remade by Ernst Lubitsch as That Lady in Ermine (1948) with Betty Grable as the star.
by Hal Erickson synopsis